Let’s be honest, dressing for the party season can be a bit of a pain in the arse. You need an outfit that stands out, but doesn't scream over-decorated Christmas tree. It should have some spark but you don’t want it to weigh 40 stone and come with it’s own warning for back problems. Add to that the fact that NO one wants to walk into the office Christmas party and be confronted by three people - including 60-year old Joan from accounts - wearing the same dress as them. It’s basically a logistical nightmare.
But we've found the answer: vintage. Guarenteed to be unique. And all offer sparkle and shine in the coolest - I haven't tried too hard because this is from the 70s - type of way.
Of course vintage is notoriously hard to style. For a start, if you go too far, you run the risk of looking like you’ve just stepped out of a Bugsy Malone re-make. Too subtle and, well, you risk someone asking, ‘Did you get that from Primark?’ and all the effort you went to to find that perfect vintage piece has gone to waste.
That’s why we're hosting a Christmas Dress Up Party with Beyond Retro next week to help you find the perfect party dress.
Try It On
‘You have to see past what it looks like on the hanger. People think ‘Oh it’s not me’ or ‘It won’t fit properly’ but when you start trying it on, you see how different the sizes and the fits are. Try lots on and you start to learn what pieces you really like and what pieces are you.’ Naomi says. ‘We have a labels department too where we sell reworked items so if you’re scared of vintage or new to it, then this section is perfect.’
Avoid Looking Like You’re In Fancy Dress
Once you see the wonders in store it’s all too easy to end up wearing ALL THE VINTAGE. But chances are you will look like you’re the fifth member of Abba. ‘Simple sequinned dresses teamed with faux fur and heels, or even just boots because flats are so key for this season, are really easy to wear,’ Naomi advises. If you don’t fancy all-out glitz, try a sequinned t shirt instead. ‘Black skinny jeans with a sequin vintage top, or ones with neck detailing are really nice. You can tell they’re vintage but they’re more simple and not as scary.’ And if you’re still not convinced try a statement embellished jacket. ‘A lot of people style embellished jackets with a band t-shirt underneath and a cute little skirt.’
Go For A Piece That You Will Wear Again
Christmas colours (hello red and green) are certainly eye-catching, but their wearability declines dramatically after January 1st. And no one wants to have spent a chunk of their pay cheque on something that can only be worn annually. ‘I think every girl needs a black sequin dress or glitzy sequin top that you can wear all year,’ Naomi says. ‘If it’s a gold coloured one you could wear it at a festival over a floral dress or with a high waisted skirt or jeans. You can really dress it up or dress it down.’
The Sixties Are Back
If you’re not into the sparkle factor, the 60s are massive this season so try one . ‘You see the 60s look everywhere now so you can take that into party wear,’ Naomi tell us. ‘Wear a nice suede mini skirt with a 60s blouse and over the knee boots to make it evening-appropriate. Alternatively, a 60s shift dress is the perfect piece for the season and a lot of people are layering roll necks under it. It’s such a transitional piece.’
Check The Item Throughly Before You Buy
It’s really important that you check an item thoroughly before purchasing. Putting it on the night of and realising you’re missing half the sequins on one side of your dress is far from ideal. ‘With things like sequins you always need to check the lining and make sure the beading isn’t coming undone. Also check it’s not ripped or that the zip or hook and eye isn’t broken. At Beyond Retro all our items are graded meaning everything in store should be of a high quality. If it’s not, it will be priced accordingly,’ Naomi reccomends. Though don’t always be put off if the dress you’ve just fallen in love with has a dodgy zip. ‘All of us have made repairs to our vintage pieces because if you find that perfect piece that you really want it’s just worth it.’ Pick up some sewing tips from our guide or take it to a local seamstress or tailor for repairs at a snip (sorry).
If you don’t fancy going all out and buying a vintage outfit, try incorporating a vintage vibe with accessories. These are fail safe, and look insanely good. ‘Vintage evening bags like the beaded, 1920s-style ones are great and if you’re wearing a plain dress it’s a really nice way of adding some glamour.’ If you’re up for making a slightly bigger statement, forget the jewellery and go for a head piece to give your outfit a twist. ‘I’m a massive fan of the turban' says Naomi. I love them for party season and you can add different broaches on the front. We do them in every colour under the sun and it’s a nice way of adding a bit of vintage to your outfit.’
This is true for any items made out of polyester, not just vintage, but it’s probably best to avoid it when you’re heading out for a night of bump and grind. Naomi is testament to this: ‘I bought a long folk long sleeved dress in polyester and it makes me sweat so much, so be careful of that. For winter they’re perfect but in summer or on hot occasions they’re not so great.’
**So there you have it. All you need to buy that banging Christmas dress. Now come put these tips to the test at our Dress Up party!
Wednesday 3rd December from 6pm-9pm, at Beyond Retro, Soho
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.